Clay Shirky has a new book that’s just been released titled “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations” with an accompanying blog that both advance to the idea that our ability to connect on the Web potentially changes much of what we know to be true about business, politics, and everything else. Should be here in a day or so.

David Weinberger was live blogging a presentation by Shirky at Harvard last week, and there were a couple “shift-capturing” phrases that caught my eye. First, Shirky was talking about the difficulties one of his NYU students was having running a health and beauty discussion board at an online magazine site for teenage girls because they couldn’t “get the pro-anorexia girls to shut up with tips about how to avoid eating.” That’s an effect of the Net, the idea that group forming is “ridiculously” easy, that we can’t stop it, and that “all we can do is watch and act.”

But here’s the quote that struck me:

Now, we have to move to a publish-then-filter world.

Not an earth shattering revelation, I know, but an interesting way of saying it, I think, and one that again captures the shift pretty powerfully. We who are engaged in personal learning networks understand this filtering role, in fact, we depend on it for our learning. We have become editors, and we have become dependent on the editorial faculties of those we have chosen to learn with. In fact, if you’re not an effective filter, odds are good that you won’t be a part of the network.

Now I know that we should have been teaching our kids to be effective filters all along, but I have serious doubts as to how many of our students are being taught to edit in the context of self-organized learning networks. And I think it’s another way to pose the question: Are we preparing our students for a “publish then filter world?”

The second little tidbit in the post that I found interesting was a discussion of the potential use for social tools in a potential Obama presidency. While Shirky noted that Obama excels at fund-raising online, no one yet has “proposed a policy wiki” or “lateral conversation among supporters.”

There may be an opportunity in the first 100 days to do social
production of shared ideas, which the campaign has not done so far. But
I don’t think it can get there without creating a profound cognitive
dissonance among the voters.

That last part really resonates in terms of the conversation about education. But let me ask this: How much easier would it be to make the case about social technologies to parents and administrators and teachers if the President of the United States were in some way invested in them? (I know, I know…would probably still depend on whether or not they voted for him or her.) But it just speaks to the idea of how important modeling the uses of these technologies is.

More molecules moving…

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